Sound and vision blog

03 September 2012

Recording of the week: African Paradise Flycatcher

Cheryl Tipp, Wildlife Sounds Curator, writes:

The African Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone viridis, is an impressive little songbird, both visually and acoustically. Male plumage is usually a combination of smoky grey and a rich tawny chestnut, although colour morphs do occur, and the cascading tail feathers measure almost three times the length of the bird’s body.

African Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone viridis)

The typical song is loud and liquid in nature, comprising phrases of 5-6 notes that are usually repeated with some degree of variation depending on the individual. Like many songbirds with wide distributions, the male song is incredibly varied, both individually and geographically and regional accents occur across its range that covers almost all of sub-Saharan Africa.

The above extract features the dawn song of a male African Paradise Flycatcher recorded by David Watts during November 1984 at Giants Castle Reserve, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Set against a backdrop of birds and insects, the strident song of this energetic songster dominates the scene and gives the listener a small glimpse into the sounds of a South African savanna at dawn.

'Recording of the Week' highlights gems from the British Library Sounds website, chosen by British Library experts or recommended by listeners. This recording is part of the Listen to Nature collection.

(Image: Ruslou / Flickr)


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